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Alexander Nelson was born in Preston in 1896 and was the only child born to George Henry and Hannah Nelson (nee Newsome/Newsham).

In 1911 Alexander and his parents were living at 77 Marsh Lane in Preston. Alexander`s father was a weaver in a local mill and his mother Hannah was working for the County Council as an office cleaner. Alexander who was now aged 15 had found employment as an Apprentice Engineer`s Pattern Maker.

According to the birth records Alexander was born in 1896 and christened in Christ Church in Preston on the 2 August, 1896. He enlisted on 24 September, 1914 and so would only just have turned eighteen. At his medical inspection his age was recorded as 19 years and 3 months so a year had been added on. He was five feet four and half inches tall and said to have good physical development and he was duly passed fit for service. Alexander was initially allocated the number 2703 which later became 200693 and was posted to “A” Coy of the 4th Battalion.

Alexander sailed to France with the 1/4th Battalion on the 4 May, 1915. His papers say that he was admitted to a field ambulance with shell abrasions on the 15 June, 1915 which was during the Battalion`s first major actions around Festubert. Unfortunately his papers are badly faded after this entry so it is difficult to ascertain what happened to him after he was injured.

The next legible entry in his records state that Alexander was sent on a Trench Mortar Course on the 28 June, 1916 which lasted for approximately a week. Then later on the 18 August, 1916 he joined the 164th Trench Mortar Battery.

On the 17 July, 1917 a preliminary bombardment was started on the enemy lines in preparation for the 3rd Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele). Just three days later on the 20 July Alexander suffered serious gunshot wounds to his abdomen and right leg and was admitted to No. 10 casualty clearing station. Sadly there was no improvement in his condition and Alexander died later the same day.

Alexander`s parents were given news of his death and they later informed the local paper the Preston Guardian who published the following article.


Just a few of Alexander`s personal possessions were returned to his parents in Preston, these included;

  • Letters
  • Photographs
  • 1 Pocket wallet
  • Scissors

Alexander was awarded the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals which his father later signed for. He was buried with honour in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery.

He is also remembered on the Christ Church War Memorial in Preston. The Memorial stands on ground adjacent to the car park of Lancashire County Council HQ at County Hall, Fishergate, Preston.


Rank: Private
Service No: 200693
Date of Death: 20/07/1917
Age: 21
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, “A” Coy. 1st/4th Bn. attd. 164th Trench Mortar Bty.

Janet Davis
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